The surrogacy boom in Tabasco is over: the state Congress’ approved legislation yesterday that prevents foreign couples from paying women to carry their baby, a practice that had grown steadily in the past three years.
And while the myriad surrogacy agencies that surface after searching on Google for “Tabasco surrogacy” promise a smooth ride, that was often not the case. Nearly as many horror stories surface in the same Google search.
Tabasco legislators voted 21-9 to reform the state’s civil code, requiring that a couple using a surrogate mother be Mexican citizens and have medical insurance to cover pregnancy, delivery and postnatal care expenses.
Women willing to hire a surrogate must also present medical proof that they are unable to carry a child to term, and be between 25 and 40 years old.
Surrogate mothers will be obligated to care for the fetus’ well being and healthy development through the gestation period, as well as to show respect to the newborn child and the contracting parents after the birth.
The Health Secretariat will also vet a surrogate’s clinical and sociological profile. Surrogates will have to be 25 to 35 years old, and will not be allowed to go through two consecutive insemination processes.
“There are three registered assisted human reproduction agencies in the state, but in reality there are many more we have no record of. The secretariat considers this unregulated practice as amoral,” said Secretary Juan Antonio Filigrana.
“We estimate there are about 500 surrogate births per year in the state. Women are hired in other states like Yucatán or Quintana Roo and travel to Tabasco to give birth, taking advantage of the conveniences we offer.”
“The women come from small ranch communities and are paid between US $7,000 and 8,000, but [the unregulated agencies] charge $100,000. This is human trafficking.”
As the only Mexican state that allowed surrogacy, albeit only altruistically, it began seeing a surge in the practice in 2012 after India, then the world’s surrogacy center, passed its own legislation with tighter controls. It was also attractive for its prices: renting a womb cost about half the price in the U.S.
While some Mexican “surrogacy journeys” progressed smoothly, wrote Jo Tuckman in The Guardian in September last year, there were horror stories of unscrupulous or mismanaged agencies stealing money and eggs, subjecting pregnant women to psychological abuse, and cutting corners on their payments. There was also evidence that many surrogates were recruited without rigorous screening of their mental and physically suitability.
Many surrogacy agencies even set up in Cancún, 700 kilometers away, offering sand, sun, sea and surrogacy. It didn’t matter where the creation of the embryos took place. The law only stipulated that the birth must take place in Tabasco.